Sun 13 Jun 2010
Is having breakfast for supper a Southern thing?
Last night I decided that I wanted breakfast for supper. Okay, maybe recalling that IHOP has those cheesecake stacker pancakes right now had something to do with it. The other factor – if one needs more than the idea of cheesecake as an incentive – was that at suppertime we could get into IHOP. You’ve got to remember that the family Graham resides in Myrtle Beach which is a tourist town.
Tourists, God love ‘em, come down on vacation talking a good game. You’ll hear them in line at the grocery store or passing by at the mall talking about how stupid folks are to travel to somewhere different and still eat at the chain restaurants. Like I said, they talk a good game. Anybody who lives in Myrtle and has tried to get into an Olive Garden for supper or an IHOP for breakfast knows that it’s all talk. Locals will drive up to those places, see the throngs crowding around, and leave and go somewhere else.
So there was a stroke of genius in my madness last night. It occurred to me that maybe breakfast for supper was a Southern thing and maybe IHOP wouldn’t be crowded. And EUREKA!! Once in a great while – I’m right. It was so not crowded that my kids, seeing the nearly empty parking lot, wondered if it was open. But it was and not only did I get my cheesecake stackers (strawberry), but we were seated in a nearly empty section that allowed the family to have a loud and raucous debate. (Apologies to the one smart diner – a single man – who decided to leave and likely swore off the ideas of marriage and children for life.)
Mr. Quack brought up a debate we’d been having at home as he is in the throes of designing the man tittie cover for the serialization of my WIP, a regency historical. He doesn’t get my reference to “Eden Without The Apple.” He’s also convinced that readers wouldn’t get it either and would be confused by theological implications. I replied that women drawn in by man titties wouldn’t be thinking about the Bible at the time.
Men are such linear people. They seem to lack the ability to compartmentalize their thinking the way women do. If women suffered from the same malady, they’d never be able to plan a grocery list while doing laundry, fielding calls from their boss and working on their new book. But anyway, Mr. Quack asked the ducklings – what does the apple in Eden mean to them? The eldest promptly replied – temptation. Mr. Quack raised a brow at me and looked at his seedling approvingly.
I said, no, don’t just think about the apple. Think about the whole phrase. What would Eden have been if the apple hadn’t existed? The eldest duckling – whose genius IQ made him a National Merit Finalist and won him a full ride at UCF (The University of Central Florida)- then said the following. That without the apple Eden would have been a perfect place occupied by beings who had the intellect and sentience of animals. Mr. Quack nearly burst with pride.
I ground my teeth in frustration. No, no, said I – you’re thinking too logically. Just consider the image. A man and woman in Eden without the apple would be perfectly happy forever. The youngest duckling suggested that if the Mommy title was too confusing, Mommy should consider a different title. The eldest, King of All Things Linear, suggested “Eden Forever” or “Eden Always.” Ahm, yeah – it’s been done.
Much fun ensued while the men of the family (everyone but yours truly) listened to me describe my vision for the book and what I’m trying to emphasize with the title. Ideally, I’d like to get the concept across that my hero is a Duke or, more accurately, a Duke Regent – meaning, he’ll lose the title to the person who marries the heroine. And I’d like to communicate the whole Eden without the apple thing that’s based on a conversation between the hero and the heroine’s late father (the Duke). I’ve even considered “The Duke’s Eden Without The Apple. ”
Mention of the latter title re-ignited the whole debate about imagery, biblical implications, sentient beings, etc. Likely to shut everyone up so he could have the floor, my baby duck (a 12 year old destined for a career in talk radio if he doesn’t achieve his goal of being a history professor) came up with a brilliant suggestion. Drum roll, please… “The Duke Of Eden.” To me, that might get the message across. It would convey that the hero would come to realize that his Eden isn’t the title. Not bad. It bears considering.
Since the evening had kindled my romance author side, I came home and watched “Kate and Leopold” on Starz on Demand. That reminded me of a blog debate that ensued over on the Dear Author website when someone wrote a blog post that savaged Johanna Lindsey’s new Malory book – “That Perfect Someone.” I, of course, had to chime in with a comment in defense of Lindsey, since all the earlier commenters had sided with the author. After my comment, a few folks typed more favorable messages.
I adore Ms. Lindsey and admire her creative genius with the Malory family saga. My favorites were James’ and Warren’s tales. Many of the commenter said it was “undeniable” that she’d lost her touch with writing the series. Hogwash! I’m currently reading one of the later tales – Boyd’s story – and am enjoying it greatly.
What sort of got my goat about the blog piece and the comment trail was that several folks were irate about the books’ lack of “historical accuracy” in scenery, descriptions and dialogue. Imagine – Ms. Lindsey throughout the series has DARED to employ a writer’s license to create the world she chose!! What was she thinking? Isn’t a writer locked into the historical reality?
That brings me to my point about “Kate and Leopold.” As far as I can tell, it was a movie that wasn’t based on a romance novel, although I’d surely have enjoyed reading the book if it had existed. The hero of the piece was the dashing and charming Duke of Albany and he’d invented the elevator, naming it after his butler, Otis. Are these details historically accurate? Well, no. Not at all. There was a Duke of Albany – and the first was Leopold who was the youngest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The real Leopold, being a royal hatchling, never had money troubles and was never forced to sail to New York to marry an heiress. The real Leopold sought a bride because he thought marriage would get him away from his mother. In the end, he couldn’t secure his own bride and the Queen arranged a marriage. The lad was a hemophiliac who died before his son was born. Needless to say, he had nothing to do with inventing the elevator. Did any of that interfere with my enjoyment of the movie? Heck no. I was in the writer’s world and the writer’s reality was my reality.
So what if Ms. Lindsey’s characters don’t use titles “correctly” by regency standards? So what if they don’t speak in the stilted verbiage typical of the time? Those and other things bothered the author of the blog piece and many of the commenters. They didn’t bother me and they don’t bother legions of Lindsey’s fans and they don’t interfere with the story — they advance it.
When I open a book – whether it’s science fiction, fantasy or romance – I enter the writer’s world. The writer can change the Regency or Victorian era – rules, tradition, dialogue and all - to suit her story. I bought the book to experience the author’s vision and I don’t give a re-fried frog if that vision mirrors or twists history or reality. If I’d wanted history, I’d have bought a history book. I want ROMANCE and I want the story to take me somewhere different, somewhere better.
So you see, IHOP Insanity causes a strange aftermath. Eat breakfast for supper and pretty soon you think you can spend a meal creating a book title. Then, you think you can go home and immerse yourself in a fictional world where reality is suspended and rules don’t exist.
Humpf, what’s next? People who think they can write books on their own terms, without crawling into a box and closing the lid? Writers who think their story tells about their characters in their world?
The next thing you know, the world may be full of writers like me who think that readers have enough imagination and creative prowess to open a book because they want to visit a place where love trounces rules, limitations and boundaries, a place as limitless as …Eden Without The Apple.